BoJo Faces Tory Pressure Over Alleged Illicit No 10 Christmas Bash, Plan ‘B’ COVID Restrictions

© REUTERS / TOM NICHOLSONBritain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson waves outside Downing Street in London, Britain, December 8, 2021.
Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson waves outside Downing Street in London, Britain, December 8, 2021.  - Sputnik International, 1920, 09.12.2021
Boris Johnson apologised on Wednesday over the leaked video showing aide Allegra Stratton and other No 10 senior staff joking about an alleged Christmas party at Downing Street last December while London was under coronavirus Tier 3 restrictions. As a tearful Stratton resigned yesterday, the Prime Minister vowed the incident would be probed.
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson is battling pressure on all fronts as he faces a backlash over the alleged No 10 ‘illicit’ lockdown Christmas party and criticism over the announced introduction of coronavirus restrictions “Plan B”, reported Sky News.
The recent developments, coming in the wake of the Owen Paterson “sleaze” scandal, have eroded the government’s credibility, warned Mark Harper, chair of the COVID Recovery Group.
“Why should people at home, listening to the Prime Minister and the Secretary of State, do things that people working in No 10 Downing Street are not prepared to do?” he asked in the House of Commons on Wednesday.
With the Prime Minister continuing to insist that at Downing Street “guidelines were followed at all times," the leader of the Scottish Conservative Party Douglas Ross suggested that Boris Johnson “cannot continue” occupying the “highest job in the land” if he is found to have misled Parliament over last year’s alleged Christmas bash.
A video grab from footage broadcast by the UK Parliament's Parliamentary Recording Unit (PRU) shows British Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaking during Prime Minister's Questions (PMQs), in the House of Commons in London on December 8, 2021.  - Sputnik International, 1920, 08.12.2021
Boris Johnson 'Sickened' by Leaked Video of No 10 Staff Joking About Lockdown Christmas Party
According to Ross, cited by Sky News, it was “undeniable” that there had been “some sort of party” in Downing Street when London was under Tier 3 COVID-19 lockdown measures.
Ruth Davidson, the former leader of the Scottish Conservatives, said on Twitter that “today’s ‘we’ll investigate what we’ve spent a week saying didn’t happen' was "pathetic".
SNP leader at Westminster Ian Blackford similarly urged Johnson to resign over the party fiasco, as the PM “can no longer lead on the most pressing issue facing these islands”.

“It’s clear this prime minister has lost the support of the public. It is clear this PM who desperately intends to cling to power. It is time for members in this house to act, if he doesn’t resign, then he must be removed,” Blackford said.

‘No Party, No Rules Broken’
Boris Johnson, who faced MPs yesterday, “apologised unreservedly” over the bombshell video revealing members of the Downing Street staff joking about a lockdown Christmas party in 2020 when such gatherings were banned. He vowed that his cabinet would establish facts concerning the incident and said that if rules were broken there will be action for everyone involved.
In the footage leaked by ITV News, dated last December, Johnson’s then spokesperson Allegra Stratton is heard laughing during preparations for a daily TV media briefing, referring to a “party” at Downing Street that was just “cheese and wine”.
© AFP 2023 / JUSTIN TALLISThe annual Downing Street Christmas tree is pictured outside 10 Downing Street, in central London on December 1, 2021. (Photo by JUSTIN TALLIS / AFP)
The annual Downing Street Christmas tree is pictured outside 10 Downing Street, in central London on December 1, 2021. (Photo by JUSTIN TALLIS / AFP) - Sputnik International, 1920, 09.12.2021
The annual Downing Street Christmas tree is pictured outside 10 Downing Street, in central London on December 1, 2021. (Photo by JUSTIN TALLIS / AFP)
According to a transcript of the video, staff, including then prime ministerial adviser Ed Oldfield,asked Stratton mock questions at the 9 Downing Street press room.
Towards the end, Stratton is heard saying that “this fictional party was a business meeting and it was not socially distanced.”
Boris Johnson, who previously faced criticism from his opponents during PM's Questions after The Mirror reported that he and his aides attended at least two parties at No.10 during lockdown last year, told parliament on Wednesday he was “furious to see that clip."
However, he refused to admit any such festive gathering had taken place at No 10.
“I have been repeatedly assured since these allegations emerged that there was no party and that no Covid rules were broken,” said the PM.
Later that day the PM's former Press Secretary Allegra Stratton tearfully resigned, with Boris Johnson telling a press conference he was "very, very sorry" to see her go.
The Metropolitan Police announced there would not be an investigation into allegations of a Christmas party at Downing Street due to an “absence of evidence”. Furthermore, its policy was not to investigate retrospective breaches of coronavirus regulations.
As to the leaked video obtained by ITV, it “does not provide evidence of a breach” of health regulations.

‘Plan B’

Coming amid the fallout from the alleged Downing Street Christmas lockdown 2020 breaches, announcement of “Plan B” COVID-19 restrictions was met with fury by Johnson’s critics.
Parliament is said to have reverberated to shouts of "resign" and "what a load of old tripe" on Wednesday as Health Secretary Sajid Javid revealed new COVID-19 measures to be introduced as of Friday. Triggered by fears over the new Omicron highly mutated coronavirus variant, these will include National Health Service (NHS) COVID passes required to enter nightclubs or large events, a work from home mandate (WFH) and extended mask wearing rules.
Former cabinet minister Greg Clark slammed Javid who had "reversed his position and jumped the gun" before any data on hospital admissions was available.
Ex-cabinet minister David Davis pointed out that European countries that introduced similar vaccine passports were purportedly witnessing soaring coronavirus cases.
"Vaccinated people can still catch and transmit the disease, and there is a sizeable chance that passports will introduce a false sense of security, giving exactly the reverse result to which the secretary of state intends, so why is he using them?" asked Davis.
The Labour Party voiced support for the new restrictive measures, however leader Keir Starmer levelled more criticism at the Prime Minister, saying:
"But Boris Johnson's recent actions have undermined public trust. His contempt for the public won't be forgotten."
Next Tuesday MPs will be debating the proposed measures, that will expire in six weeks, with a review scheduled for the first week of January.
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